Cheer up, draftniks. The first NFL mock drafts for 2018 are right around the … wait … what?
You mean they’re already available?
Well, I guess it has been like 30-some hours since the 2017 NFL draft ended. But if months of hype, coverage and recap weren’t enough, let us throw another pebble on the ’17 pile with … (insert drumroll and Countdown Clock ticking to :00) … A look at the 10 most intriguing draft picks by Vikings opponents. In reverse order, of course:
10, Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears
Round/overall pick: 1/2
I was going to limit this to picks that played more than 13 college games and didn’t cost their teams a bounty of picks that could have been used to upgrade a defense that had only 11 takeaways a year ago. But Mike Glennon is Chicago’s tentative starting quarterback. And the Bears open the season with Atlanta, at Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and at Green Bay on a Thursday night. Then they have 11 days before playing host to the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Can you say 0-4 and Mitchell Time!?
9, O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers
Round/overall pick: 1/19
The best tight end in the draft gives the Bucs not one but two tight end mismatches (Cameron Brate) for the Vikings to worry about when Tampa Bay visits in Week 3.
8, Jonathan Allen, DT, Redskins
Round/overall pick: 1/17
While the Bears, Chiefs and Texans were scrambling up the draft board for questionable quarterbacks, Washington sat still as the best defensive tackle tumbled to them. Allen can play anywhere along the defensive line and could give the Vikings’ interior offensive linemen a lot to handle coming out of the Week 9 bye.
7, T.J. Watt, LB, Steelers
Round/overall pick: 1/30
Who knows if he’s the pass rusher Pittsburgh needs. But he’s J.J.’s little brother, and he’ll be making his home debut when the Vikings visit in Week 2.
6, Takkarist McKinley, DE, Falcons
Round/overall pick: 1/26
Talk about a potentially stressful situation for the Vikings’ new offensive tackles. Playing at Atlanta’s new stadium on Dec. 3, they could be facing McKinley on one side and Vic Beasley on the other when it comes time to pass on the road on third-and-long.
5, Kenny King, CB, Packers
Round/overall pick: 2/33
Remember that Christmas Eve shootout between the Vikings and Packers at Lambeau last year? Well, that’s one reason the Packers used their top pick on a 6-3, 200-pound cover corner.
4, Miles Garrett, DE, Browns
Round/overall pick: 1/1
Assuming some element of the Browns’ powerful jinx hasn’t already worked its black magic by then, the best player in the draft could be chasing Sam Bradford all over London in Week 8.
3, John Ross, WR, Bengals
Round/overall pick: 1/9
U.S. Bank Stadium could look like an indoor track facility when Ross and A.J. Green visit on Dec. 17. Stretch out those hammys ahead of time, Vikings DBs. Ross’ 4.22 40-yard dash set the combine record.
2, Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
In case Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram weren’t enough to worry about, the Saints grabbed one of the best three-down backs in the draft in Round 3.
1, Christian McCaffrey/Curtis Samuel, athletes, Panthers
Round/overall: McCaffrey 1/8; Samuel 2/40
Defensive whiz Mike Zimmer will need his best brain cells when the Vikings face Carolina on the road in Week 14. The Panthers, who already had 2015 league MVP Cam Newton and a solid receiving corps, used their top two picks on a do-it-all running back who can play receiver (McCaffrey) and a do-it-all receiver who can play running back (Samuel). How many things can Carolina do with these playmakers? The Vikings will find out Dec. 10.